Sun Prairie teens voice community concerns at special forum

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 --- 9:30 p.m.

Sun Prairie teens opened up Wednesday night about what they like in the community and what they want to see change.

It was part of a forum sponsored by the Sun Prairie Youth and Families Commission, called "Reality Check."

One by one, student participants shared what they're taking away from the discussion. Among them was James Pontius. The Sun Prairie High School junior is a member of the Youth and Families Commission. He helped recruit fellow classmates and friends for the "Reality Check."

"It's a really big deal to have a lot of student input to come back into something that matters directly to the community that they live in," he said.

One of the main concerns Pontius heard among the group Wednesday was a lack of activities in town, and no way to get to activities out of town.

"I mean, there's a lot of things you can do, go to the movie theatre, go to the mall, but that's not really close by," Pontius said. "For people who don't have the modes of transportation to get out there, they spend their time back at home or doing things they normally wouldn't do, maybe things that they shouldn't be doing."

The hope was that by sharing their thoughts with community leaders in the room Wednesday, these kids could help shape how they grow up.

"I am so thrilled at the reaction tonight," said commission chair Mary Ellen Havel-Lang. "This is a first of a kind in Sun Prairie. We strongly believe we'll be doing this again."

"The fact that we have so many representatives from so many higher places, people in government and people on the school board who can do something, that is the most important thing," Pontius said. "Because students want to believe that their voices will be heard, that their voice on change will actually have an effect."

On Thursday night the Youth and Families Commission will hold its regular meeting. Members will take a look at what was said Wednesday, and start to plan how some of the students' ideas can be implemented.

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